|My first time to land in South Kivu Province of DRC was March 2010 when I had just taken up the role of Country Coordinator for the N2Africa Project. At this time when this region was recovering from the 2005-2008 civil wars, with restrictions to work in rural areas. Notwithstanding the security fear that existed at that time, Jean-Marie as the key field agronomist, laid an important groundwork, building on earlier work through the CIALCA project. He mobilized three strong local development organizations (DIOBASS, PAD and SARCAF) into the project and within a few weeks, we managed to establish the first farmer-managed try-outs of legume technologies in the project mandate area. By 2013, DRC had widely-installed field demonstrations and farmer field days – at that time more than any other country in the project.
|Jean-Marie was passionate to help farmers learn and try-out what he believed was of greatest benefit to them. He ensured that the project extended its operations to new areas like Uvira and Goma, where positive results continue to be seen today. He always encouraged and invited students to work in the project. I remember Jean-Marie shared his office with students from the local Universities in the town of Bukavu.
On a personal note, he always emphasized to keep people’s morale up and appreciated their contribution after hard work. For him this was often done by inviting them for simple snacks and drinks. As a father, Jean-Marie was devoted to his family. I remember the time he visited me in Kisumu, Kenya where we spent four hours together ensuring that he had a gift to take home for each member of his family.
Freddy Baijukya, N2Africa Country Coordinator for DRC in Phase I and N2Africa Country Coordinator for Tanzania in Phase II